The redelivered tonnage includes three 13,092-TEU Danaos-owned vessels on long-term charter from the Greek shipowner, reported London's Loadstar.
According to one London broker source, Maersk and MSC took over the charters of the three ships at a discount on the charter party daily hire rate, with HMM paying the difference to owners.
The source said that, having already exceptionally agreed to discount the daily hire rate to HMM during the carrier's cost-cutting measures designed to ensure its survival, Danaos 'held firm' on the revised rate.
At the time, HMM was not in a strong negotiating position, needing to become part of an alliance to receive several tranches of desperately needed funding from state-owned banks, but it was denied full membership of the 2M and only able to secure a slot charter deal.
Subsequently, HMM has been accepted as a full member of rival THE Alliance, together with Hapag-Lloyd, ONE and Yang Ming, and will officially join the vessel sharing agreement (VSA) on April 1.
The Danaos ships, along with five 10,081-TEU vessels also sub-chartered to Maersk and MSC, will be deployed on THEA's new east-west network, slated to commence on April 1.
HMM is taking delivery of twelve 24,000-TEU ships between April and September. They will be fazed into THEA's FE4 loop, replacing Hapag-Lloyd's eleven 15,000-TEU ships.
According to Alphaliner, the redelivered vessels and the newbuild mega containerships will add 388,000 TEU to HMM's fleet, raising the total capacity to 790,000 TEU and placing it in eighth place in the carrier league table.
The consultant said the redelivery of the ships to HMM 'would not have a significant impact' on the overall fleet deployment of Maersk and MSC, with the outgoing tonnage mainly being replaced by ships returning from scrubber installation.